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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Stunning Testimony Raises Questions About Trump's Legal Jeopardy; January 6 Committee Hints At Evidence Of Witness Tampering By Trump World; Abortion Debate Impacts Contested Gubernatorial Races; Police Chief Describes Pile Of Bodies Inside Tractor-Trailer; NATO Formally Invites Finland And Sweden To Join Alliance; U.S. To Offer Monkeypox Vaccines In States With High Case Rates. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 29, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm so excited about this. Massive Cheez- It, 16 times the standard size slipped into these things. I don't eat at Taco Bell, but the size -- 4 by 4 for a Cheez-It, anything is possible.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Now, you'll be eating at Taco Bell.

BLACKWELL: I mean, they might get me. Goldfish, your ball. You're up next. Do something.

CAMEROTA: I can't tell if it's gross or awesome but --


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can tell how panicked Trump world is by how viciously they're attacking Cassidy Hutchinson.

THE LEAD starts right now.

MAGA media, Rudy Giuliani, even former President Trump himself all trying to discredit star witness testimony that may actually reveal crimes committed, leading up to and on January 6th. Their denials of pardon requests and more. A member of the January 6th committee will join me in moments.

Also ahead, more undocumented migrant deaths linked to a tractor trailer abandoned in the hot Texas sun. And now word of children among the victims.

Plus, shocking new video of a powerful blast in the war that Russia started, as the U.S. and allies rush to prevent any chance of a similar fate in two other countries.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our politics lead and the fallout from the damning, stunning January 6th hearing yesterday. It is becoming more and more clear just how distressed Trump and his allies seem to be in the wake of the testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Based on how relentlessly they're attacking her.

Nonetheless, the former top aide to the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is standing by her comments. Cassidy Hutchinson's lawyers telling us in a statement, you're hearing about first on CNN, quote, Ms. Hutchinson stands by all of the testimony she provided yesterday, under oath, to the select committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol, unquote.

Now, one might note that Trump supporters disagreeing with or assailing Cassidy Hutchinson are not doing so under oath. Many in fact have refused to answer any questions about their involvement in the attack.

Some House Republicans were privately stunned and dismayed by the news that Hutchinson brought in her bombshell testimony, specifically what she revealed about Donald Trump and those around him with one senior house Republican who did not support the impeachment of Trump telling CNN, quote, this testimony will lead to indictments.

Now, it is not clear if Attorney General Merrick Garland or the Department of Justice are actively investigating Trump or anyone in his orbit, but if Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony is to be believed, and she was quite credible, it now seems possible that the committee is zeroing in on alleging that then-President Trump and some of those around him committed crimes.

As CNN's Ryan Nobles reports, the committee is now calling for other first-hand witnesses of Trump's behavior leading up to and on January 6th to come forward and also testify under oath.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after a bombshell hearing featuring former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you swear --

NOBLES: -- the January 6th Select Committee signaling their investigation and what they have to reveal is far from done.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day.

NOBLES: Hutchinson delivered close to two hours of damaging details of conduct by the former president and his closest advisers that could be damaging politically and open the door to legal liability.

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.

NOBLES: The committee wants to hear more, zeroing in on Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone who was at the center of much of Hutchinson's testimony.

Vice chair, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, tweeting: It's time for Mr. Cipollone to testify on the record.

Legal experts warning there could be risk for Cipollone, but opportunity for the committee.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If I were his counsel, there's no way that he would testify. I mean, he has got enormous exposure, but on the other hand, he has a lot of leverage to negotiate with Congress, to negotiate with the Justice Department, even for possible immunity.

NOBLES: As more evidence is revealed, the pressure is increasing on the Department of Justice to act. Members of the committee openly saying they believe Trump committed a crime.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I think the evidence we have displayed over the course of our hearings, there's no doubt in my mind that he was involved in criminal activity.

NOBLES: The committee also accusing Trump loyalists of putting pressure on potential witnesses, bordering on witness tampering.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): I think that's something that should be looked at by our committee and potentially by the Department of Justice.


NOBLES: Meanwhile, some Republicans are pushing back, questioning Hutchinson's credibility. Trump himself clearly watching the hearing, claimed, quote, I hardly know who this person Cassidy Hutchinson is.

But privately, Republican leaders expressed real concerns. One senior Republican member of Congress telling CNN the testimony could, quote, lead to indictments.

Trump's former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, rushing to Hutchinson's defense, saying, quote, I know her. I don't think she is lying.


NOBLES (on camera): So it's clear that the committee would like to speak with Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel, but it is not exactly clear how they plan to compel him to cooperate. At this point, they're making it a very public showing of the fact that they would like him to do so voluntarily.

The question is, do they put some legal weight behind it and formally issue him a subpoena? That could be complicated because as White House counsel, there are privilege issues that are involved in it.

At this point, Jake, they're trying to work out those issues to find a way to get Cipollone to tell the committee what he knows -- Jake. TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles, thanks so much. And I'll be talking

with former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in the next hour of THE LEAD.

Joining us now to discuss is a member of the January 6th Select Committee, Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

So, you told CNN after yesterday's hearing that there's no doubt in your mind that former President Trump was involved in criminal activity. What exact crimes do you believe he committed?

Congresswoman, can you hear me? It's Jake Tapper. Can you hear me?

It sounds like we're having some -- we're going to take a quick break and we're going to figure out the audio problem we're having with the Democratic congresswoman. We're going to squeeze in this quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: And we're back with our coverage of the fallout after yesterday's bombshell January 6th hearing.

Joining us to discuss, a member of the January 6th Select Committee, Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia.

So, Congresswoman, you told CNN after yesterday's hearing that there's no doubt in your mind that then-President Trump was involved in criminal activity relating to activities around January 6th. What exact crimes do you believe he committed?

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, I think some of the testimony we heard yesterday when we heard what attorney, Mr. Cipollone, said is, you know, the president goes over there, there's a whole list of things that could be found guilty of or crimes he could be involved in. And, you know, I think we have clearly seen he was involved in the scheme to send false electors, so as well as the scheme to stop an official proceeding of Congress, in my mind, inciting a riot.

We heard a lot about the details of that yesterday, and his own words all throughout this, stand back and stand by. It will be wild. Let's go to the Capitol, really leading his followers to believe that he was going to personally march there himself, and as we found out yesterday, he really thought he was, too, until he was told emphatically that he wasn't.

TAPPER: The vice chair of your committee, Liz Cheney, says the committee has evidence of potential witness tampering by folks in Trump's orbit. Can you directly connect any of the texts that were shown to the audience yesterday to Donald Trump or his closest allies?

LURIA: So we have these examples within the committee, we're looking into it further, but I'll tell you those are not the only ones and this is not unique to what we talked about yesterday, that we heard from different witnesses that they received these types of messages, these types of sort of warnings. Things along the lines of, clearly applying pressure in the sense that, you know, we know you're loyal. We know you'll do the right thing, which clearly to me is pressure being applied on someone. They're essentially pressuring the witness before they speak to the committee. So there will be more about that as we continue with the investigation.

TAPPER: Has the committee made any criminal referrals to the Department of Justice about any of the issues you just talked about?

LURIA: These are things we're still investigating, collecting the facts on, and as of yet, the committee has not officially made any criminal referrals.

TAPPER: Liz Cheney has been, Congresswoman Cheney has been making it clear she thinks the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone should testify. Has the committee had any discussions with Cipollone or his representatives in the last 24 hours about getting him to formally testify?

LURIA: We still strongly encourage him to testify. I am not privy to any conversations within the last 24 hours. I would be hope fell those are taking place, but as we saw yesterday, the information he has, his proximity to things that happened on January 6th, and in certain cases from the testimony we heard, he stood up and he said the right things and tried to stop some of these more egregious actions. So we really do need to hear from him to paint the full picture of the things that happened on January 6th.

TAPPER: A Secret Service official tells CNN that it is willing to make its agents available to testify under oath, and those agents Engel and Ornato will say the incident Cassidy Hutchinson described having been told about by current Secret Service agent, then White House deputy chief of staffs Tony Ornato, the story Trump lunged for steering wheel in the presidential limo and lunged at Secret Service agent Robert Engel, they will say that it didn't occur, the event. I'm not sure if they're also claiming that they didn't tell Cassidy Hutchinson that the story occurred.

Will they testify under oath in open hearing?

LURIA: Well, first of all, Ms. Hutchinson testified under oath. I think she provided credible testimony to the committee. And if there are others who have information about the facts that she covered, we would like to hear from them. So, we look forward to hearing their testimony under oath. And as to whether that will be in a public hearing or in a different part of our investigation, we look forward to receiving as much information from those secret service officers and others who can provide information relevant to the work we're doing.


TAPPER: But haven't Ornato and Engel already testified just but behind closed doors? Because Congressman Raskin told me he didn't know of any corroborating evidence. So, I'm just confused about this. Were they not asked about it when they testified?

LURIA: I believe their testimony happened earlier, and therefore, we have additional questions to ask them. So we look forward to them and we're glad the Secret Service has said they're willing to return and speak to the committee more.

TAPPER: Will they do so openly, in open hearing?

LURIA: You know, as far as which parts of the testimony will be provided live in the hearings or which will be provided through different means to the public, I think that's yet to be determined.

TAPPER: All right. Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Turning to the still evolving landscape of abortion, and now even contraception in the United States, laws are changing around the country after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The states you see in orange have either banned or restricted abortion. The states in dark blue still allow the procedure.

All of this is having other impacts as well. Jeff Zeleny is in Michigan with actions its governor, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, is taking to make sure girls and women will still have access to whatever medical procedures they feel they need.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I don't think many knew that Michigan would snap back 91 years to a law that would render this pro- choice state one of the most extreme in the country.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS COORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Governor Gretchen Whitmer is on the front lines of the new abortion fight, where a temporary court order is all that's keeping Michigan from reverting to a 1931 law that made abortion a felony.

WHITMER: No exceptions for rape, no exceptions for incest. This is how serious this moment is and how dramatic life could be upended in Michigan.

ZELENY: Meeting with women in the Detroit suburbs, Whitmer sounded the alarm about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

CROWD: This is what democracy looks like!

ZELENY: As fallout ripples across the country from courts -- to campaigns.

It is suddenly a central issue in battleground governor's races in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, where Democrats say they're the last line of defense from Republican challengers and GOP-controlled legislatures, pressing for more restrictions. WHITMER: The most important economic decision a woman makes in her

lifetime is when and whether to have a child. And this court decision threatens to rip that away from every woman in the country. And it's going to be up to governors. That's why this fight is so important.

AD ANNOUNCER: Tudor Dixon, Michigan mom on a mission.

ZELENY: Tudor Dixon is the leading Republican candidate for governor, strongly opposed to abortion rights.

TUDOR DIXON (R), MICHIGAN GOV. CANDIDATE: On both sides, it energizes people. Certainly you have the pro-life people who feel like this was a win, and then you have the pro-choice people who want to see something different.

SHARON BASEMEN, ABORTION RIGHTS SUPPORTER: Have you signed the reproductive initiative petition yet?

ZELENY: Abortion rights supporters are collecting signatures put the issue on the November ballot, a movement under way for months that is catching new fire in the wake of the court's ruling.

BASEMEN: Friday, all hell broke loose. You know, people saying what can I do to help? We're getting a lot of people who aren't necessarily Democrats coming to sign because they just think it's wrong.

ZELENY: John Murray, a small business owner of a baby and children's store, said he will sign the petition, because it's an issue for men as well.

JOHN MURRAY, OWNER, "MODERN NATURAL BABY": If you have a daughter, if you're married, if you have a sister, if you have a mother, right, like if you don't feel like my wife feels like I'm less of a human right now than you are. She's like, you have more rights than I do right now.

ZELENY: A proposed constitutional amendment in Michigan is seen by the ACLU as a test run for other states, navigating the post-Roe world.

LOREN KHOGALI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU OF MICHIGAN: This will serve as a model for other sort of similarly situated states. It really will sort of be a beacon in the midst of a really difficult time for reproductive rights supporters.

ZELENY: That's exactly why opponents of abortion rights vowed to fight the ballot initiative and hoped of stopping it in Michigan.

CHRISTEN POLLO, SPOKESWOMAN, CITIZENS TO SUPPORT MICHIGAN WOMEN & CHILDREN: We will either have a ban on abortion that protects human life or we'll have this anything goes abortion amendment. This is a little bit of a test to see what they could do in other states.


ZELENY: Now, for all the talk about the fight for control of Congress, the Democrats trying to keep control of the House and Senate, Jake, it is these governors races, particularly in these key battlegrounds where the front lines of the abortion fight now are playing out. And here in Michigan, there is a petition that is likely to be on November ballot that is a test case.

So that certainly, Governor Whitmer believes, is going to help her in November, but there's a central question here, is that going to overtake issues of inflation, high gas prices, and other matters? She said she believes it's a top issue. She doesn't know if it will be the only issue -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Katie Watson. She's an associate professor of medical education at Northwestern University, and an attorney.

Katie, good to see you.

One of the largest health systems in Kansas City, Missouri, is no longer offering the emergency contraception pill Plan B to patients. This is obviously raising concerns that the Missouri abortion ban will eventually affect access to birth control. Just to be clear, Plan B is contraception. It is not an abortifacient.

Do you think this is going to happen, that increasingly we're going to see contraception just removed or banned?

KATIE WATSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICAL EDUCATION, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY MEDICINE: I do. The question is the chilling effect. Some legislatures may pass statutes intended to ban or limit access to contraception. But in addition, we have to look at how these statutes play out on the ground. And in a state like Missouri, where people are scared, and they have seen and they anticipate draconian law enforcement, with any ambiguity, they're going to play it safe, and hospital systems are not looking for extra liability, so we can see more of this, expect to see more of this, even if it's not intended by statute.

TAPPER: Do you under -- do you understand the decision made by this health care provider? Because I don't. Plan B is contraception. So why would they stop offering it?

WATSON: Their concern is allegations that Plan B can interrupt fertilization or implantation, which is not the case. But the fear that people -- not driven by science, could try to put forward this argument in an earlier FDA label on Plan B, it suggested that it could be an abortifacient. That label will be changed soon, I believe, based on the science that's been out there for years.

TAPPER: We're also seeing ballot initiatives on abortion. In Kansas, voters will vote on August 2nd on whether or not to keep or repeal the state's abortion protections. In Michigan, as you just heard, they're trying to gather signatures put a constitutional amendment to protect abortion on the ballot in November. What do you make of that?

WATSON: Well, what the Supreme Court did on Friday was to declare that women aren't people protected by the U.S. Constitution. I mean, that's really what the Dobbs ruling boils down to. And so it makes perfect sense that people are taking it into their own hands and looking at their own state constitutions. State constitutions can give you more protections than the federal constitution. The federal constitution is a floor, not a ceiling.

And so in 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court interpreted its constitution to protect abortion access, and to include women. So the Kansas ballot initiative that's happening in just a month is anti-choice forces trying to repeal that and amend the constitution to say abortion can be prohibited by the legislature. It's not protected.

So, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom is looking for folks to vote no on that, to allow their Supreme Court to have its voice.

Michigan is the flip. The Michigan ballot initiative, and it looks like they have enough signatures put it on for November, is to add protection for abortion access into the Michigan constitution explicitly.

Now, it's important to note that Governor Gretchen Whitmer and also Planned Parenthood have filed lawsuits making the same argument that was made in Kansas in 2019, that our constitution already protects abortion access with the language that exists, and they received a district court injunction saying -- agreeing with them, saying they have a likelihood of success on the merits. That will be appealed up. We'll have to see what happens. A more secure alternative and response is to pass this constitutional amendment in November in Michigan.

TAPPER: There are also questions about the security of apps that track menstrual cycles, period tracking apps. We saw in 2019 the director of the Missouri state health department admitted to having a spreadsheet tracking the menstrual periods of Planned Parenthood patients, this had to do with an investigation, I believe, in an abortion that failed. I believe that's what it was.

But the reason I raise it is because he was -- the health director was looking into the menstrual cycles of Planned Parenthood patients. Are you concerned about these apps and the government tracking women's menstrual cycles to keep an eye on whether or not they're pregnant, et cetera?

WATSON: Absolutely. And let's just tie that back to the first topic you mentioned, why would a hospital system in Missouri be nervous about absolutely overzealous enforcement?


You just provided that example why. The question is that some of these apps store data in the cloud rather than keeping it local on the phone. That's part of a larger conversation about data privacy on smartphones, but it is suddenly so crucial for so many thousands of women in these states that are going dark.

So, yes, I am very concerned because it could be evidence used against a woman. Let's also point out that things like Google Maps that could track your location could be -- that data could be subpoenaed to show where you went. There are apps, I believe Planned Parenthood has one that track periods and store the information just directly to the phone.

I believe there is an app that has been developed by reproductive health where people can access medication abortion with data just stored to their own phone. I think this generation is going to fall back in love with pen and paper and the telephone.

TAPPER: Katie Watson, thanks so much for your time. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, a tragedy getting worse in what's being called the deadliest case of human smuggling in U.S. history -- at least recent U.S. history. What we just heard from a police chief, that's next.

Plus, a case we have been monitoring for years here on THE LEAD, a Supreme Court decision today giving a major victory for an army reserve veteran.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the death toll in the deadly human smuggling case in Texas has tragically risen to 53.

On Monday, a packed sweltering semi-truck was found abandoned on the side of the road in San Antonio in a barren stretch known locally as the "Mouth of the Wolf".

CNN's Rosa Flores is in San Antonio.

Rosa, you just spoke with the police chief. What did he have to say?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, I'm still processing what he said. He said this was beyond tragic. And he described the scene in a way that we have not heard before. I'm going to quote here, he said that when he saw that tractor trailer, here's what he saw, quote, the floor of the trailer was completely covered in bodies. And that at least ten bodies were outside the trailer.

Now, if you look at that video that we have been showing on this case, you'll see that there's a red tarp. That red tarp is covering the bodies that he is describing.

Now, he says that when his officers first arrived on scene, they were hoping to rescue these individuals. That's why those bodies were taken out of the trailer, because these brave men and women were hoping to rescue the individuals in this trailer. But here's what he says happened next. The driver, they believe, started leaving that area where that trailer was.

And so they asked for further resources. They asked for chopper backup. They used their police chopper to track this individual in a field and that that individual was detained. We don't have more information about that individual, but police officers, of course, were handling both scenes. Both trying to detain the driver, the suspected driver, I should correct myself, and also trying to rescue the individuals in the trailer.

But as the chief then very vividly described, Jake, he said it was just a pile of bodies -- Jake.

TAPPER: Just awful. Rosa Flores in San Antonio, thanks so much.

Staying in Texas. Today, four teachers from Robb Elementary, the mayor of Uvalde, and several police officers testified behind closed doors in front of the Texas House investigative committee looking into the worst elementary shooting in this country since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Let's bring in Republican Congressman Tony Gonzalez of Texas, who represents the sites of both of these tragedies, for your congressional district. Unbelievable.

I guess let's start with this closed door hearing. What are you hearing about it?

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Yeah, no, thank you for having me, Jake.

And, look, our community is still trying to heal, and we're trying to get all the facts in place. There's a lot of different investigations going on. I think what we have to do is let these investigations take hold and let the facts lead us to the truth. And then once that shakes out, we got to act and make sure that we implement changes.

And it's not only for Uvalde. It's for all of the surrounding communities. Uvalde is really the big town in that area. There's a lot of surrounding communities that feed into Uvalde.

TAPPER: So, let's take a listen to the mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin, right after his testimony today.


MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN, UVALDE, TEXAS: I have yet to be briefed by anybody from any agency on what went on, which I think is wrong.


TAPPER: I think there's a real concern that the public and most importantly the family members who lost their children in this horrible tragedy or their mothers or wives, will never actually find out what happened because there's been, it looks like, a cover-up.

GONZALES: There's been all these different misinformation out there. You have a lot of folks worried about the politics in it.

We've got to look beyond that, right? I talk to -- I speak with Mayor McLaughlin almost daily, as well as the county judge who is a Democrat. We talk daily, how do we heal and get through, get the community whole again.

Look, a lot of people don't realize, we're getting ready for school. It's 60 days away and our teachers, our superintendents, we're trying to get ride for school. The chaos hasn't stopped. On Thursday of last week, a high-speed chase went through town. Teachers got an alert to hunker in place and had to revisit this terrible incident that happened a little over 30 days ago. That's what where a lot of our focus is on.

TAPPER: Turning back to the migrant tragedy. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin told "Politico" it was, quote, a Uvalde moment, unquote, for immigration. Now, Durbin and Republican Senator Thom Tillis are restarting long shot immigration reform talks.

Do you think that is a potential solution to this horrible situation where people are -- smugglers, coyotes, whatever, are bringing people in and subjecting them to risks like this?

GONZALES: Yeah, look, there's 53 people and counting of the number of deaths. If we don't take a notice of that, what will we take notice of?

I think it is a Uvalde moment where we should all of us should sit down and go, how do we secure the border, how do we have immigration reform? How do we sit down in a pragmatic way and find solutions. As a lawmaker, I'm committed to doing that.

Look, one of the reports I'm hearing is there were people in that truck that escaped, that were able to flee, if you will, when the doors were open. What does that tell me? There were probably a lot more people in there than just the 60-plus left behind.

What I'm getting at is this crisis is spiraling out of control. In the House, it's been very partisan, and it's been unfortunate. The Senate has really led, I thought, coming together, very difficult topics. That's what we need more of. The House needs to lead and we need to do it in a manner that is bipartisan and pragmatic.

TAPPER: On that topic, let's talk about the gun safety bill that passed in the House, because you were one of 14 House Republicans who voted for it. I guess it was last week, believe it or not.


TAPPER: You are a very conservative Republican. You're a supporter of gun rights. Was that a difficult vote for you?

GONZALES: It wasn't difficult for one reason. I always looked at it as this. This is why I voted for that piece of legislation. It would have prevented the Uvalde shooting from occurring, right? There were other pieces I didn't vote for because I didn't believe it would have stopped the Uvalde shooting. That's one.

The other piece of it, too, is there's billions of dollars in this bill that's now signed into law for mental health. That's the other aspect of it. We always talk about it, but we never actually do it and implement some of these things.

You know, back to the San Antonio event, there's over 60 firefighters that had to see these bodies. Guess what? They need psychiatric help.


GONZALES: My first responders are hurting. Part of the legislation, it's the largest investment in mental health. This is what we can accomplish when we put together, when we put policy ahead of politics.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas, it's good to see you. Thank you so much for being here.

GONZALES: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next to the world stage and the expanded territory Russia may be up against if Putin decides to take his war outside of Ukraine. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead today, a potentially historic expansion of NATO, all thanks to the belligerence of NATO opponent Vladimir Putin. Sweden and Finland have been invited to join the defensive alliance after Turkey drops its objections paving the way for NATO's most consequential enlargement in decades.

And as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, this decision comes as President Biden meets with his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the NATO summit.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): NATO leaders in Madrid dealing a massive blow to Russian President Putin after formally inviting Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to particularly thank you for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden.

COLLINS: Turkey had been the last remaining road block and President Biden sat down with Turkish President Erdogan today to thank him after he dropped his objections to their membership.

BIDEN: The floor is yours.

PRESIDENT RECEP ERDOGAN, TURKEY: This NATO summit that we're attending in terms of its agenda is going to be quite busy, and it's going to be quite important.

COLLINS: Once ratified by all 30 countries, the move would nearly double the Western Alliance's border with Russia and expand the group to 32 members.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: This is a good agreement for Turkey. It is a good agreement for Finland and Sweden. And it is a good agreement for NATO.

COLLINS: When President Putin invaded Ukraine four months ago, he was hoping to weaken the alliance that pledges to defend any member that's attacked, but instead has only rallied it.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): The NATO countries did not want to hear us, which means that in fact they have completely different plans.

COLLINS: With Finland and Sweden racing to join NATO, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy asked NATO leaders today why them and not Ukraine?

PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE (through translator): NATO's open door policy should remind us of the mechanism of the old Kyiv metro barriers. They're open. As soon as you approach them, they are shut until you pay. Has Ukraine not paid enough?

COLLINS: The White House also announcing the U.S. is boosting its troop presence in Europe as Russia's invasion drags on.

JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NSC COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: And you're going to see other announcements from other allies to shore up the eastern flank. Now the eastern flank has gotten bigger or will get bigger once Finland and Sweden join.


COLLINS (on camera): Now, Jake, obviously, we're here at the G-7 Summit in Madrid, which is happening in Germany, now the NATO summit. The G-20 summit is going to happen in Indonesia in November. We should note the president of Indonesia actually visited Kyiv today. He personally invited Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to attend and we're told that he has accepted that invitation.

Obviously, Jake, that's notable given we do expect Russian President Putin to also be there as well.

TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins in Madrid, thank you so much.

To the buried lead, these are stories we feel deserve more attention than they're getting. Today, a huge U.S. Supreme Court victory for Army Reserve veteran Le Roy Torres, a burn pit victim who won the right to sue his employer, the state of Texas. We followed his case on the show for years. Torres says he suffered debilitating lung damage from exposure to a burn pit when he served in Iraq. The military has long used burn pits to destroy items such as trash, human waste, dangerous chemical material.


Torres told me last year he has struggled to get the treatment he needs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LE ROY TORRES, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: In 2018, I was diagnosed with a toxic brain injury. It's been one thing after another following my lung biopsy in 010. It's been a constant battle for specialized health care.


TAPPER: Torres says he was forced to resign as a Texas state trooper because of his lung condition. And that's when his case ended up in court when he tried to sue. Torres told me the Supreme Court decision could help up to 1,000 veterans who have also had their jobs compromised because of health situations. Congratulations to Le Roy and Rosie.

Next here, the new actions in the U.S. to contain monkeypox as cases spread at an alarmingly high rate.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, U.S. officials ramping up efforts to curb the monkeypox outbreak. Part of the plan is to distribute more vaccines to the states with the highest case rates and to expand who is eligible for a shot.

Let's bring in CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, the Biden administration's new strategy comes as the CDC has opened an emergency operations center to deal with monkeypox. So what's in this plan?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they want to identify first of all where exactly this is spreading and among who this is spreading most robustly. This is the largest and sort of widest spread outbreak of monkeypox, typically these outbreaks have occurred in the past, but this is really gaining traction. We can take a look at some of the numbers here. And even since this morning, the numbers have changed, another state now reporting cases, and 45 more cases over the day. So now we're at roughly 351 cases confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States in 27 states and over 5,000 in the world now, and close to 50 countries.

So this is obviously something that is spreading. What they're basically talking about specifically in terms of recommendations is identifying who might be most benefitting from a vaccine. And what they're saying is people who are living obviously in areas where monkeypox is circulating, if they have had a known sort of exposure to someone with monkeypox, this does appear to be occurring in people who have had sexual relations with someone who has had diagnosed monkeypox, people who have had multiple sexual partners, gay men who have had multiple sexual partners, especially again in areas where monkeypox is circulating.

So, if you look at the states with the most previous cases, that's likely where you'll see vaccines start to surge. One thing, people think of vaccines as something you take to prevent infection, which is true. There is something also known as post-exposure prophylaxis. So, even after a known exposure, to reduce the exposure, you could still potentially get a vaccine.

They also want to increase testing, Jake. I mean, this is going to sound familiar, but we probably don't have clear eyes on exactly how men a cases are out there, so they want more commercial labs testing and public health institutions as well.

TAPPER: Let me turn to COVID now and these possible new booster shots. FDA advisers are recommending the vaccines be redesigned to target omicron variants. Is that essential, and when can Americans expect to see these modified booster shots?

GUPTA: Yeah, this is a really interesting discussion. I think it's predicated on two basic things. One is I think most people airport there will be a surge of cases in the fall. Whether it gets cooler and drier, respiratory viruses tend to spread more easily. That's number one.

Number two is that the existing vaccines are still really protective against severe disease, but we have been talking about the waning immunity overall with these new variants and sub-variants. So, I think that's what's really driving the thinking. There was a lots of enthusiasm. We'll see what the FDA says, but it's pretty clear some sort of booster that is specific to an omicron subvariant is probably what's going to be recommended by the FDA.

The challenge, Jake, is this. Let me show you what has happened with omicron just over the past couple weeks here in the United States. We knew, you know, the original omicron subvariants were very powerful and spread very quickly. Between June 12th and june 18th, the subvariants had a 37.4 percent, that was the percentage of cases. Now it's over half. That happened just within a week.

So that gives you an idea of how much of a moving target this is. So, lots of enthusiasm for an omicron specific booster. But these numbers will change. And there could be a new variant. I think they have to sort of pick a moving target in the future in terms of determining what that booster will be.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.

Coming up on THE LEAD, Trump's former acting chief of staff, why Mick Mulvaney says the star witness cast real doubt on Donald Trump. He'll join me next.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, we're going to be joined by the mother of an American veteran currently being held captive by Russian backed separatists after he was caught, well, helping Ukrainian fighters. She spoke with her son on the phone for the first time since his capture.

Plus, it's become a haven for women who live in states with bans on abortion. We're going to talk to a Colorado doctor who has been burr performing abortions since before Roe v. Wade. He'll have a warning on what's happening in states like Colorado where abortion is legal.

And leading this hour, she must have struck a nerve amid attacks from MAGA loyalists. The lawyer for former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson issued a statement stating that Hutchinson stands by all of the testimony she gave to the January 6th select committee yesterday, under oath. Several of Donald Trump's staunchest Republican defenders have attacked her publicly, though not under oath, we should note. Others have been publicly silent after Hutchinson's stunning testimony.

In private, however, former Trump aides tell CNN the testimony painted a picture of Trump completely unhinged and losing all control, a damning portrait.

CNN's Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona starts us off this hour

Most Republican officials are not willing to talk publicly about yesterday's hearing. Tell us what's they're telling you privately.